While the current Brazilian administration is juggling its industrial development and new role as an international economic powerhouse, the slums of Rio de Janeiro still lag behind in terms of employment, education, access to basic services and representation in the larger community.The cooperative movement in Brazil, and specifically Rio, is bringing individuals into the legalized, formal economy, benefiting these communities and the country as a whole. As urban planners grapple with the roadblocks to economic and social development in Rio, the cooperative business model becomes a solution.
One success story is Trama e Raiz, an artisan cooperative located just north of downtown Rio de Janeiro in the low-income community of Nova Iguacu. This cooperative is an all-women organization, making up a total of 18 full-time members. The women specialize in handmade bags and clothing, made from the inner fibers of banana stalk. On the wall of this cooperative there is a list of the 7 cooperative principles. When members of Trama e Raiz are not handcrafting beautiful bags, they teach sewing classes to young adults in the community, once a week. This allows young men and women in the community to obtain income-generating skills.